Archive for organized labor

"Labor Day: the red-headed stepchild of holidays... to honor not the dead, but the living. Our workforce."

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Today’s guest post by the one, the only, Will Durst:

THE LEAST LABORING OF DAYS

Hey, it’s Labor Day, everybody. Woo- hoo. Okay, we’re partying now. Throw your arms in the air and wave them like you just don’t care. Blow up some balloons. Tap a keg. Rip open a bag of chips. Because this isn’t a champagne and caviar kind of thing. This is the very definition of blue collar. If collars be worn at all.

It was 1894 when Labor Day first punched into work. Grover Cleveland signed it into law 6 days after the end of the Pullman Strike during which federal troops killed more than 30 strikers. Cynics saw it as a kind of make-up sex between the government and the American worker. Well, flowers and candy anyhow.

The first Monday of September was specifically picked to bridge the long holiday gap between 4th of July and Thanksgiving and to get as far away from May Day as possible. In the late 19th Century, labor unions were one thing, but Communists were a horse of a different color.

For 120 years, Labor Day has been the red-headed stepchild of holidays. As glamorous as the guy with a shovel following a mule in a parade. Something you roll out to get Child Protective Services off your butt. “Look, we gave you an entire day, now give it a rest, would you? What do you want, cake?”

Goldilocks would have loved Labor Day. Not too hot. Not too cold. Less incendiary than Easter and Christmas, but with a decidedly higher thermal print than the International Talk Like a Pirate Day; fast approaching on September 19. Hard to believe its time to dig out the eye patch, wooden leg and Jolly Roger. Again. Already.

Because of Labor Day’s peculiar calendar placement, it has morphed into not so much a celebration as a seasonal signal flag. Here lies the tired, dried- up body of summer. Time to roll up the garden hose and recharge the snow blower. Bury the swimsuits and exhume the parkas. Watermelon smoothies give way to pumpkin lattes. Weenie roasts on the back deck- no. Tailgating in a dirt parking lot- yes.

The lazy hazy days are over and school and football have kicked off. And this holiday Monday is but one final chance to party in the long light. Meanwhile, the significance of what we’re commemorating has gotten lost in a last gasp blast of beer, baseball and barbecue.

Labor Day is meant to be a day we set aside to honor not the dead, but the living. Our workforce. One single day off so the real nine to five heroes that keep this country humming can hang with their families and friends before squaring their shoulders and getting back to the job of earning a living and carving out the future. And maybe one day at a theme park on someone’s 10th birthday without having to take out a second mortgage.

It’s a day to catch our breath. To celebrate the contributions of all of America’s working folk. From the floor of the stock exchange to the stockroom of Amazon. To recognize the pistons that keep the engine of this country pumping along. And no need to bring gifts, although that whole flowers and candy thing is never a bad idea. And maybe some chips and beer and what the hell… cake. Who doesn’t like cake?

Catch 5 time Emmy nominee, Will Durst’s new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG” every Tuesday until November, at the Marsh, San Francisco. Go to… themarsh.org for more info. Or willdurst.com.

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Banishing the Poor, Unemployed and Working Class from the Mainstream Media Implies That They are Worthless

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media news incorporated democracy

Your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin;

How often do you come across an article or a television news story that presents a poor person in a positive light?  Or for that matter when do you read about or see a story on an unemployed individual or the challenges of a working class American whose salary is receding as the stock market soars? [...]

In short, if you are not a member of the economically made, political or corporate elite, you generally don't appear in the news. You are voiceless, faceless. The reality is that you are not news; your existence is hardly worthy of note, with the obligatory exception of an occasional "gee it's tough to live like this" profile of a "welfare mom" or person unemployed and looking for work for three or four years. [...]

Otherwise, in urban areas, the only regular stories you see about the poor is the knife and gun coverage of violence [...]

Some union members are well into the middle class, but even labor gets short shrift by the corporate mainstream media.  Why? Many reasons, but one of the big ones is that the owners of news "machines" in America are generally not keen on unions.  They cut into their media conglomerate profits.  So why promote the union viewpoint?

But there's another key point to remember.  News that relies on advertising for revenue and profit – which is almost all the news media ...– are shaped as conduits for advertisers to deliver to a defined market.  And guess what? Poor and low income people don't have the money to make them a desirable advertising audience (with some exceptions) for big media. So why write articles about them in the corporate media? [...]

To many in the society, their mere presence on earth blights the landscape of the prosperous.

Please read the entire post here.

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House GOP leadership rammed through bill that would have effectively put National Labor Relations Board out of business

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labor unions brought us

Yesterday I posted this: "Reince Priebus confirms GOP’s not really serious about reinventing itself; Paul Ryan aids and abets."

One of our astute readers brought one more thing to my attention, something I missed, one more thing that proves that Republicans are all show and no go. While they're busy screaming about freedom and democracy, House Republicans made it clear that they don't want working Americans to have a voice.

 

Via the AFL-CIO:

House Republican leadership rammed through a bill (H.R. 1120) earlier today that would effectively put the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) out of business. 

The NLRB enforces rules established under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which protects the rights of workers to form unions, bargain collectively and have a voice on the job. 

All Democrats, along with 10 Republicans—Reps. Rodney Davis (Ill.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), David Joyce (Ohio), Peter  King (N.Y.), David  McKinley (W.Va.), Pat Meehan (Pa.), Tom Reed (N.Y.) and Don Young (Alaska)—voted to stop this blatant attack on workers' rights. In the end, after much arm-twisting by Republican leadership, the measure squeaked by on a vote of 219-209. [...]

Fortunately, this bill will not be taken up by the Senate, but it is symbolic of the right-wing's anti-worker agenda

outreach my ass reach out inclusive

You can read the AFL-CIO letter opposing H.R. 1120 here.

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VIDEO: Why California labor unions are growing

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unions death exaggerated

Please watch the whole video, especially the part at about 11:43.

The bad news: Union membership is on the decline. In fact, a record low 11.3 percent of all U.S. workers were union members, down from 11.8 percent in 2011, the government said.

The good news: California is seeing union gains. Why? Latino workers.

Latino immigrants are more willing to join unions in a tough economic environment, according to organizers.

The L.A. Times is reporting that California added more than 100,000 union member last year, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 18.4% of the state’s workers are represented by a union.

Corporations maximize profits at the expense of the people who do all the work, so low-wage workers are interested in organizing in order to give themselves opportunity, job security, and to become a part of the now-shrinking middle class.

As David Johnson (from the video), organizing director of the California Nurses Assn., said, "There has to be a broader vision set forth so that people see unions and the labor movement as an answer to the corporate domination and the Wall Street greed that has devastated our country."

Labor's more optimistic proponents say that California could serve as a blueprint for unions across the country as they seek to stem membership declines. [...]

Workers fed up with years of stagnant wages may be motivated to join a union for financial reasons. Last year, union members made $943 a week, on average, while non-union members made $742, according to the BLS. [...]

Organizers say they were successful because they harnessed frustration with growing nationwide inequality to engage members during the recession. [...]

But demographic shifts can be only positive for unions in the next few years, said Harley Shaiken, a labor professor at UC Berkeley. Labor has built new alliances and is going into a new, proactive phase, he said.

"Reports of labor's death have been greatly exaggerated," he said.

unions gave us

Remember who created our weekends, overtime, safe work places, unemployment benefits, public roads, and employer-based health care.

And remember why Republicans want to do away with them: They are one of the few lucrative sources of Democratic fundraising.

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